Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Just Say the Word”—Laura’s review
Thank u, Matt, for a very simple meta on a day when I have no energy left to blog a puzzle. I just got back from a whirlwind weekend in New York City, visiting friends and competing at the 20th Annual Westport (CT) Library Crossword Contest, where I got to hobnob with such luminaries as Will Shortz, the entire staff of the Westport Public Library (me, total dork, introducing myself: “Hi! I am also a librarian!”), and tournament winners Ken Stern, Glen Ryan, and Jesse Lansner (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively). The fun thing about Westport is that they don’t bother to rank anyone below the three top finishers, so the ~100 other people there all came in 4th! That’s likely the highest I’ll ever place at a crossword tournament. Okay, so judging by how many people were in the break room after each round, maybe I was more like 10th. That’s still likely the highest I’ll ever place at a crossword tournament.
The answer to this meta is a country, and I don’t know if my spidey senses were honed to a perfect edge because I was at a tournament, or if it was the brilliant-solving-by-osmosis vibes I got from sitting in between champions Ken and Jesse, but this clocked for me at 0.25 metaweeks on the Gaffney Scale.
- [18a: The coffee a baker drinks while kneading?]: DOUGH JOE
- [28a: Weary exhalation in the city of Beethoven’s birth?]: BONN SIGH
- [37a: Put a 1930s migrant on your shoulders?]: CARRY OKIE
- [50a: Female member of the Lakota Nation?]: SIOUX SHE
- [61a: Overthrow of a government in the Himalayas?]: HIGH COUP
There is something delightfully old-fashioned about this theme’s corny puns:
DOUGH JOE == dojo
BONN SIGH == bonsai
CARRY OKIE == karaoke
SIOUX SHE == sushi
HIGH COUP == haiku
Those are all things from JAPAN, which is indeed a country, and our answer.